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Aussie Footy introduction

If you haven't been introduced to Aussie Footy before you certainly will have to swot up on it before coming to Melbourne. Much like our footy or soccer as its called down under it plays a huge part in the culture and everyone follows a team. I knew about the game having seen footage of it in the past but really didn't get it, and I certainly didn't realise just how big it was in Australia. The game itself is a bizarre mix of rugby and basketball in that its a full contact sport but instead of phases of play that rugby has it is all about gaining territory by running all over the place to allow you to take a shot at goal.

The pitch sizes are oval and it has two 50m half circles on each end which represents the area players aim to reach in order to have a realistic shot at goal. There are 4 goal posts on each end and in order to score the highest points you need to kick it between the two middle posts, if you go through the outside posts you only get one point. The pitch sizes are not regulated and so the rest of the pitch size that makes up the oval shape can differ from one stadium to another. But, to put it into perspective of how big the pitch is and the kind of level of fitness the players need to have, each game a player can run on average about 15K, which is insane!

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When we got to Oz our mate Broomy was adamant that we had to go and see a game in order to be a true Australian resident and so we were lucky that his team, West Coast Eagles who are from Perth were playing at the Etihad Stadium here in Melbourne versus Hawthorn. His friend Mel had arranged the tickets for us which was really nice of her and I think being neutral to supporting a team both Mel and Broomy were taking the opportunity to influence our team of choice by taking us to see their team. :-)

The game was scheduled on a Friday night and it was cool to turn up at a local bar and see everyone with their scarfs and shirts having a drink before going to the game as it gave a sense of occasion. After we wet our whistles we followed the crowd to the Etihad Staduim and were lent some West Coast garb ourselves so we would fit right in.

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The Etihad Stadium is pretty awesome and luckily for us it has a roof so it was going to be a bit warmer than outside which was well received.

I always like walking into stadiums when there is sport going on as there is always a buzz and as we walked into the first level we saw the pitch and the grounds were gathering.

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Mel and Broomy decided to go up a level to get a good view which would allow us to see the play a bit better so they could explain some of the rules. The beauty of these games is that there is normally tickets available because alot of the West Coast fans don't come over from Perth because its too far. You could certainly tell that Hawthorn, being based in Melbourne, had the larger crowd.

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Before the teams run out they have a big banner raised which has the team motto and the players run on to the field and burst through it.

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It kinda worked....

Whilst the players had a warm up and got into position to start the game , Broomy and Mel kindly gave us a run down of the rules and it wasn't long before the first quarter was underway.

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The game is entertaining because the ball is always moving and it continually goes from end to end. The players can either kick the ball to each other or can fist punch the ball to another player, they're not allowed to throw it. If they run with the ball they have to bounce it on the floor after a certain amount of metres. There are always moments in the game when players are jumping in the air and trying to intercept the ball because as soon as you catch the pass from a kick the referee blows his whistle and signals a mark and the player who caught it has a uncontested kick to continue the game towards opponents goal.

It certainly pays to be a tall guy in this game. One player for West Coast (in the blue) called Nick Naitanui is a like a basketball player!

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However at times it would get quite scrappy with players fumbling for the ball and loses its edge at times, normally at this point someone would be on the floor with the ball and the whole crowd would shout 'BALL!!!!' which is intended to be a call for the player to release the ball.

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You could certainly see even with the level of fitness these player have they would still need thorough amount of physio to allow them to continue playing the game.

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The game is made up of 20 minute quarters so we had time to get grips with some of the rules and could follow what was happening. When the ball is kicked through the middle posts it scores 6 points but if it hits the post as it goes through it is only 1 point. If it goes through the outer posts then it is 1 point. However if a player of the opposite team manages to touch the ball before it goes through the posts it doesn't count. These are just a few of the rules!

Broomy and Mel are passionate fans and the game was quite close considering Hawthorn were top and West Coast were mid-table.

Broomy looked on intently...

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...as the crowd cheered

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What was cool to see during half time was a load of kids of all ages came out on the pitch and play their own games which for them must of been great fun, especially getting to play it on such a big pitch. Apparently they do it at all the games as part of a 'get kids into footy' initiative which we both thought was a nice touch. In all the excitement one little kid clearly had forgotten to go to the bathroom before coming on to the pitch but was determined to try and play with a strange squirming run that was hindered further by his kit that was too big for him and his socks that kept falling down. Definitely made us all smile. With all the advertising and commercialisation of the game that is very obvious to see when you spend some time here it was refreshing to see them giving something back to the community.

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It was a great experience and we certainly were introduced to the game in the best possible way.

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A big thank you again to Mel for sorting the tickets out and Broomy for giving us the right introduction as well as how to say BALL!!!!

Stay tuned for more tales...

Dan

Posted by doyledan 03:34 Archived in Australia

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